Hi, I'm Mary, and welcome to my ongoing Blog! I'll be updating it with more info and photos from time to time, so visit again soon!
Painting and Meeting Dionne Warwick
Me and Dionne Warwick, and Portrait
I had the great privilege of being commissioned by the producers of the legendary Dionne Warwick's show at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, to oil paint her portrait!
Recently at Halloween time 2019, they flew me out to Vegas to meet and do photos with Ms. Warwick! I had the privilege of meeting and chatting with her 4 times, with 2 photo sessions. Here we are at her home where she has hung the portrait I painted for her. (See an image of the painting below).
She told me many times how beautiful it was and how much she loved it – even called it "glorious!" Such an honor! Certainly what one would call a Life Experience. Especially since her music was of my era, and she was my favorite female recording artist…We had several of her singles and albums when we were young.
Dionne Warwick and I After Her Performance
My photo with Ms. Dionne Warwick after her performance at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. What an honor to meet and talk with her! It was Halloween and she had come in costume as a Raiders fan - It was so fun!
If you go to Vegas, be sure to see her show – at age 78 she definitely still "has it!" Having been prominent in the music world for over 50 years, she's won 6 Grammys and sold over 100 million records worldwide.
She is No. 2 of all time for the most charted female vocalist (Aretha Franklin is No. 1). Ms. Warwick was also this year's recipient of the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, with countless other awards throughout her career. And she is the nicest, most gracious person too!
Portrait of Dionne Warwick
This is the oil on canvas I was commissioned to paint of Dionne Warwick by her producers. (They'd become familiar with my work through Grande Gallery). I have inserted a mini image in the upper corner of the photo that the art is based on.
The painting is 24x30, so quite a nice size (as you can see from the above photo of it on Ms. Warwick's wall).
During the photo sessions with her, I was able to tell her what an honor it has been to do this portrait and to meet her. And that I watched online many current interviews of her, as well as performances. Plus of course listened to her music. So this helped me get a sense of her energy/personality, which I could then more easily capture in her portrait. She really liked that idea!
I'm very pleased to announce that my work can now be commissioned through Grande Gallery at the Galleria, Edina MN. I specialize in fine art portraits, pets, home/cabin "portraits", favorite scenes and vacation spots, and more. These include both oil paintings and/or graphite/charcoal fine art drawings. You may either call the Gallery at 612-900-5639, or click my Contact button above.
And if you're in the area, do visit the gallery!
Mary with display at the Grande Gallery
Mary painting demonstration at the Grande Gallery
Inspiration and Art
Nature is my main inspiration - whether flowers, scenes or animals. And color, with the play of light.
Most of my art includes lots of detail, sometimes also combined with simplicity in the same painting. Throughout the years I have traveled and lived in many places within the U.S. and around the world, from Kuwait to Vancouver, B.C., to Peru, to Europe. So I’m bursting with ideas.
Be sure to contact me if you’d like to commission something special! I especially love doing florals, gardens, memorable scenes, and pet portraits.
Currently closeups and details of flowers, particularly roses, is a favorite theme. Sometimes I do commissioned florals for folks who want to remember part of their garden, or a memorable bouquet. I call these “floral portraits.” Otherwise, I have over a hundred rose sketches and often construct my own roses, petal by petal. Or I may set up a still life. Having studied light in nature, I enjoy including light in my art.
Here are a few of the stages of painting a commissioned rose, and the final art (oils).
I also love doing pet portraits and special animals. Here are some typical stages of a commissioned painting (the famous horse Secretariat), from drawing to final art (oils)…
I'm always up for a new challenge and to see what I can do. So through the years I’ve worked in just about every medium… conte crayon and chalks, pastels, gouache, water color, acrylics, airbrush, oils, pen and ink...
and also a fair bit of digital art.
Now my favorite is water mixable oils! These are oil paints in which a molecule has been modified so they can be diluted and clean up with water.
Years ago I had stopped painting in oils because of the fumes and allergies. But acrylics dry fast and don’t blend as I like, so results can be more limited. Instead of using acrylics, oils would have been much easier when doing my large Beauty and the Beast .
I especially wanted smooth blending and lots of play of light and shadows. A challenge with acrylics. That’s when I thought, gotta try the water mixable oils. Secretly I thought, yeah right. I decided to do a Princess.
If these paints work for blending skin tones, hair, jewels and fabric, then they would work for just about anything.
And they’re awesome! The brand you use makes a huge difference in quality and workability. I use Holbein’s Duo Aqua.
Besides an interest in more naturalistic art, I also have a love of whimsy and characters.
With a love of character development and writing as well, I added another aspect to my creative work - doing children's books. I’ve written and illustrated several children’s books. One already published (see info about "Princess Nada and the City of Ice"). Others are partially illustrated. Just have to get in gear with them for publishing .
The mouse picture below is an example from one of my other books (acrylics).
A really fun project was a series of 12 Dessert Fairies (acrylics) – one for each month. I found I love painting desserts as well. Especially chocolate! Doing desserts with coffee or wine will be an upcoming subject in the near future, so stay tuned!
My younger years… When I was little, my favorite present was always a big box of 64 crayons. At age 10, I won a state-wide student contest about drawing to Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Flowers.” Soon my parents gave me a set of 24 Grumbacher chalk pastels, professional grade. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. (I still have the same box to this day. It is now ancient).
Next came a large how-to-draw in black chalks and charcoal by then-well known artist, John Gnagy. It contained a vast variety of chalks and charcoals from white to light gray to black. And sandpaper tablets, and paper stomps and chamois cloths with which to blend and shade.
But the how-to booklet was advanced and overwhelming. I didn’t touch it for 2 years. By then I was 12. When I did, a whole new world of realism opened to me, and I soon became quite adept at realistic representation, shading, contrast.
A good friend who was an excellent artist loved to draw horses, so I entered a horse phase for about 3 years until I could do them in my sleep. Then dogs. Thus my current interest in pet portraits. (German shepherd is done in oils).
At home I had a great collection of illustrated books of classical fairy tales, a favorite genre. My sister and I made enormous figures of princesses and castles on long pieces of freezer paper and hung them all over our rec room walls, mural style.
The best part was designing fashions for these characters. Which led to fashion design paper dolls. To this day I love to do character fashions, especially in my fairy art. (Fairy in floral costume is acrylics).
Several years ago I was asked by award-winning composer Rob Resetar, who had a contract with the Minnesota Orchestra, to write a children’s story and illustrate it with a slide show for his original music score, called “Princess Nada and the City of Ice.” I proceeded to illustrate a full slide show of 80 pieces!
It was a thrill to sit in the best seats in the house of Minnesota's Orchestra Hall and watch my work come to life. The lights went down, the orchestra began the music, a costumed actor/narrator began the story… And then there was my art projected on an enormous movies-sized screen behind the orchestra.
The show got great reviews. The project traveled around the U.S. and was performed by many class-A orchestras. Soon we did a fully illustrated sequel called, “Princess Nada and the Crystal of the Sun.” The “City of Ice” and illustrations were published into a book, and it is now in Kindle format.
I subsequently illustrated the book covers and interiors for 4 more books, plus magazine illustrations.
Below is a sample of a book cover painting, and how it looked after the publisher printed it onto the cover. (The original painting almost always looks better!)